And no, it's not beer. A shortage of Canadian beer would be a blessing, not a curse.
Variety reports that the land of milk and hockey is low on laughs because the CTV network hasn't produced a new hit sitcom that has won the nation's maple syrup pumping hearts.
The success of Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon recently inspired me to assess the ten best movies about television. TV has been a fertile source of entertainment for filmmakers. The TV turf is also a popular setting for TV shows, and there have been some all-time great shows about the tube. Here are nine that I think warrant special recognition -- in no special order.
1. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
It all started at WJM-TV in Minneapolis. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the perfect sitcom blend of home and work, and work happened to be the local TV news team. As Mary Richards, the associate producer, Mary Tyler Moore was the single girl America loved because she was real, funny, gorgeous and lovable. At work, the news was mangled nightly by Ted Baxter, the quintessential news reader anchorman who loved every dulcet tone of his voice and had no idea what he was reporting. In perfect irony, when the show came to an end, most everyone at WJM -- Lou Grant, Murray Slaughter, Sue Anne Nivens, Mary -- were fired. Only Ted was spared!
It looks like a new generation of television viewers may be introduced to Bob and Doug MacKenzie. The creations of SCTV alumni Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas have a new, animated life that will be broadcast on the Fox network.
Bob and Doug are two beer-swilling, touque-wearing Canadians who hosted their own show (a show-within-a-show on SCTV) called "The Great White North" (and originally called "Kanadian Korner"). They were created in 1980 as a result of a network request for more Canadian content on SCTV. The characters proved so successful that they subsequently released two albums based on the characters and the movie Strange Brew.
TV commercials are fairly easy to satirize. If you think about it, advertising is sort of ridiculous in the first place (a TV show is interrupted to ask you to buy toilet paper and gum?), so they're a natural for parody. There have been a lot of great parodies over the years, from shows such as Saturday Night Live and SCTV, and now Nerve has picked the 50 that they consider to be the best.
There are a lot of great choices, from SNL's "Colon Blow," "Schmitt's Gay Beer," and "Compulsion by Calvin Klein" to the Zoloft ad from Mad TV. One of my favorites is SNL's "Happy Fun Ball" spot, which was written by Jack Handey and included in his new book of essays What I'd Say To The Martians. It's a good list all around, though it's also one that I feel is missing a bunch of good ones, only I can't put my finger on which ones are missing at the moment.
The one they pick as number one is undoubtedly a classic, though I think it's overrated. I've always loved the one after the jump.
Catherine, who might be best known as Kevin's mother in Home Alone and Home Alone 2, is better known to comedy devotees for her brilliant work on SCTV -- Lola "I want to have your baby" Heatherton, and the Christopher Guest mockumentaries like Best in Show (she was Cookie Guggleman Fleck, the trampy wife of Eugene Levy, both of whom adored their terrier).
Good Behavior is based on Outrageous Fortune, a New Zealand series about a criminal family. Catherine is Jackie West, the matriarch of the clan, and when her spouse is caught and thrown in jail for five years, she decides that it's time for the rest of the family to go straight.
I was driving around town today with the top down and my iPod blaring and a song came on that brought back some memories and I was really bothered.
The song was "I Don't Like Mondays" by The Boomtown Rats. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the song and recognize it as a classic. More importantly, I'm sure most of you know that the song was inspired by a particularly horrific event (feel free to Google it). However, that wasn't what bothered me. The bothersome part was that the memories it brought back were those of one of my favorite shows.
What's happening on other blogs via the interweb.
- FOX gives JJ Abrams $10 million to make a sci-fi pilot for the network titled Fringe.
- There are 26 crime dramas on TV right now. Radar helps you pick which one to watch.
- Jerry Seinfeld gives 30 Rock a slight ratings boost.
- Something Old, Something News has video of the classic SCTV parody The Cisco Kid.
- More evidence that Jimmy Fallon will take over Conan's spot in 2009.
- Oh, this is funny. Remember I told you about the hot women of Fox Business Network? They've changed the site!
- Hey, remember UPN and The WB? Ah, the olden days.
- The Addams Family - Vol. 1
- Batman Beyond - Season 2
- Beavis and Butthead - Gift Set
- Bewitched - Season 4 (color)
- Degrassi: TNG - Season 4
- The Facts of Life - Season 3
- Greg the Bunny - Best of Film Parodies
- Hannah Montana - Vol. 1 Livin' The Rock Star Life
- Justice League - Unlimited Season 1
- The L Word - Season 3
- Little House on the Prairie - The Movies
- MacGyver - Season 7
- Monarch of the Glen - Series 5
- Nightmares and Dreamscapes - Complete Series
- The O.C. - Season 3
- Sabrina and the Groovy Ghoulies - Saturday Mourning Collection
- Saturday Night Live - Best of TV Funhouse
- SCTV - Best of the Early Years
- Sesame Street - Old School: Vol. 1, 1969-74
- Slings and Arrows - Season 2
- The Swan - Complete Series
- That's My Bush - That's My Bush
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea - Season 2, Vol. 1
- Wings - Season 3
As a bonus, the six episodes include many familiar faces from SCTV (the show was produced in Canada), including Martin Short, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, and John Candy. And the set is only $9.99 if you get it from Amazon. Sweeeeeet!
If I may be so bold, the cartoon was in some ways better than the live-action version of Short's character. The surreal world Short created around Grimley was given a more vibrant life when animated, and other touches such as a singing pet mouse gave the show an oddball quality that would portend the absurd humor of Adult Swim and other recent animated fare.
The show featured Short as the voice of Ed, as well as many of his friends from SCTV such as Joe Flaherty (who played children's show host Count Floyd in a live-action segment) and Catherine O'Hara. Jonathan Winters and Andrea Martin also worked on the show. The series began in 1988 and was off the air in 1989. The combination of being shown on Saturday mornings, and an attempt at humor that wouldn't gain wide acceptance until a few years later pretty much spelled doom for the series from the very beginning. Those of us who were lucky enough to catch it, however, got to at least spend a few moments with one of the strangest, most inexplicable animated shows of the late 1980s.
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